The calendar below, created by Dr. Peter Yuichi Clark, is an excellent way to keep on top of religious high holy days and festivals as they go by. It is especially useful for those in interfaith vocations who need this information on a day-to-day basis.
TIO is cooperating with another “working” religious calendar project being led by Read the Spirit. It extends what we usually mean by religious calendar to include important civic holidays. It identifies major religious holidays more than a year in advance. Most important, it features stories about what these many religious festival events are all about – what they mean, the important stories, the food associated, and how particular events are celebrated. Your own stories of religious holidays, whatever your tradition, are welcomed at the site. Check it out!
* * *
Religious Holy Days in March & April 2014
March and April mark the season of the Eagle Dances, when people of the Arizona Pueblo tribes dance to dramatize their communities’ relationship with the Sky-World. This month is also known as Xsaak, the season when candlefish swarm and members of the Nisga’a tribes catch these fish, dry them, and render them into oil for lamps.
April marks the season of Mmaal, which is when the rivers open, and of the Eagle Dances, when people of the Arizona Pueblo tribes dance to dramatize their communities’ relationship with the Sky-World.
Saturday, March 15
Eve of Purim – Judaism
A celebration of the Jews’ rescue from an evil plot to destroy them while they were living in Persia, the events of which are recorded in the Hebrew biblical book of Esther. The holiday includes reading the Megillah (the scroll of Esther), exchanging gifts, and special pastries called hamantashen.
Sunday, March 16
Ghambar Hamaspathmaedem, Fravardegan, or Muktad – Zoroastrianism
(continues until March 20)
A celebration of the creation of human beings and a commemoration of souls who have died. Prayers are offered to the fravashis (the divine spark within each human, which lives forever), asking for their blessings and protection.
Magha Puja Day [Dharma Day] – Buddhism
In the Theravada Buddhist tradition, this full moon day of the third lunar month marks the historical Buddha’s sermon at Veruvana Monastery in the city of Rajagaha, where he spoke to 1250 enlightened monks who were ordained by him.
Monday, March 17
Saint Patrick’s Day – Western Christianity
A commemoration of the missionary bishop who evangelized Ireland in the fifth century C.E.
Holi – Hinduism
This festival is one of Hinduism’s most popular celebrations. People throw colored powder or spray colored water to celebrate episodes in the life of the god Krishna.
Hola Mohallah – Sikhism
A three-day festival instituted by the tenth Sikh gurū, Gobind Singh, as a time for military pre-paredness exercises, Hola Mohallah now is celebrated with mock battles, music competitions, and festivities.
Wednesday, March 19
Birthday of Avalokiteśvara or Kuan Yin [Kannon] – Buddhism
Usually celebrated on or near the full moon day in March, this day marks the occasion when the enlightened being known as Avalokiteśvara (in the Mahāyāna traditions of Tibet and China) or as Kuan Yin or Kannon (the feminine embodiment of this bodhisattva in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese Buddhism) vowed to attain final, supreme enlightenment and thereby save all suffering sentient beings.
Thursday, March 20 spring equinox
Spring Ohigon – Buddhism
For Buddhists who practice in the Jōdo Shinshū [Japanese Pure Land] tradition, this is a special time to listen to the teaching of the Buddha and meditate on the perfection of enlightenment as lived in the Six Perfections or Paramitas (generosity, morality, wisdom, honesty, endeavor, and patience).
Shunki-sorei-sai – Shintō
The time of the spring memorial service, when ancestors’ spirits are revered at home altars and gravesites are cleaned and purified.
Ostara – Wicca
A time to mark the divine goddess’s blanketing of the Earth with fertility as the god stretches and grows to maturity, manifested in the reawakening of seeds within the Earth as they are touched by divine love.
Spring Feast – Native American spirituality
A day to mark the coming and going of seasons and to honor planting through songs, stories, and prayer.
Friday, March 21
Naw Rúz – Bahá’í
Marking the beginning of the year 171 of the Bahá’í era, and the beginning of the first month of the year, known as Bahá or “splendor.”
Navruz [Now Ruz or Norooz] – Zoroastrianism
The beginning of the Zoroastrian new year, 1383 AY or 3752 AZ in the Fasli seasonal calendar, which also celebrates the renewal of the world and the creation of fire (which symbolizes righteousness). Zarathustra, the founder of Zoroastrianism, received his revelation on this day.
Tuesday, March 25
Feast of the Annunciation – Christianity
This festival marks the visit of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary of Nazareth and Mary’s faithful response to God’s plan by consenting to be Jesus’ mother.
Wednesday, March 26
Khordad Sal – Zoroastrianism
The birth anniversary of the prophet Zarathustra.
Thursday, March 27
Avan Ardvisoor nu Parab – Zoroastrianism
A day celebrated by Parsi Zoroastrians in honor of the waters. Indian adherents gather at the ocean’s edge to say prayers and offer flowers.
Saturday, April 5
Qingming – Chinese traditional
Often called Tomb Sweeping Day, it is a day to honor one’s ancestors and visit their grave sites, as well as to welcome the coming of the spring season.
Sunday, April 6
Anniversary of the Church’s Founding – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Tuesday, April 8
Ramanavami – Hinduism
A nine-day celebration in honor of the birth of Rama, the seventh incarnation of the god Vishnu. Hindus read the Ramayana, a Hindu epic, and religious dances called Ramalila are performed to depict scenes from his life.
Wesak – Buddhism
In the Mahāyāna tradition, this is the anniversary of the birth of Śakyamuni Buddha, the historical founder of Buddhism.
Wednesday, April 9
Jalál – Bahá’í
The beginning of the second month in the Bahá’í calendar, “Jalál” means “glory.”
Saturday, April 12
Lazarus Saturday – Christianity (Eastern churches)
A commemoration of Jesus’ miracle of raising his friend Lazarus from the dead, celebrated on the eve before Palm Sunday.
Sunday, April 13
Palm Sunday – Christianity (Eastern and Western churches)
The remembrance of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, when crowds spread palm fronds on the ground as Jesus rode into the city. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week.
Mahavira-jayanti – Jainism
Celebrating the birthday of Lord Mahavir (Great Hero), the 24th Tirthankara (and last of this time cycle).
Monday, April 14
Eve of Pesach [Passover] – Judaism (ends on April 22)
The beginning of an eight-day festival celebrating God’s deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The story is told during a Seder meal at sundown, including readings from a book known as the Haggadah. Some Jews refrain from work on the first two and the last two days of this holiday.
Vaisakhi – Hinduism
The first day of the solar year and an important harvest festival in northern India.
Vaisakhi [or Baisakhi] – Sikhism
On this date in 1699 C.E., Gurū Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, created the Khalsa Panth, the Brotherhood of the Pure. Khalsa brothers are given the name Singh (lion), and sisters are named Kaur (princess).
Tuesday, April 15
Hanuman Jayanti – Hinduism
A celebration of the birth of Hanuman the monkey, the faithful servant of the god Rama.
Theravadin New Year – Buddhism
The New Year festival for Theravadin Buddhists, celebrated for three days beginning on the first full moon day in April.
Wednesday, April 16
Yaqui Deer Dance – Native American spirituality
A ceremony that integrates ancient rites of the Yaqui people of Arizona with the Christian Easter rituals.
Thursday, April 17
Maundy Thursday [Holy Thursday] – Christianity (Western churches)
The remembrance of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples and his institution of the “love commandment” (the term “Maundy” comes from the Latin word for “commandment”) while he washed their feet as a servant.
Eve of Great and Holy Friday – Christianity (Eastern churches)
At sundown Eastern churches commemorate Jesus’ death by crucifixion, followed by an observance of the Great Sabbath, in which believers remember Christ’s burial and await his resurrection on Holy Pascha, or Easter morning.
Friday, April 18
Good Friday – Christianity (Western and Eastern churches)
A commemoration of the passion of Jesus of Nazareth, i.e., his death by crucifixion. At sundown some churches begin the Easter vigil either this evening or on Holy Saturday (April 19).
Birthdays of Gurū Angad Dev and of Gurū Tegh Bahadur – Sikhism
Gurū Angad Dev (1504 – 1552 C.E.) was the second and Gurū Tegh Bahadur (1621 – 1675 C.E.) was the ninth of the Sikh Gurūs.
Sunday, April 20
Easter or Holy Pascha – Christianity (Eastern and Western churches)
Celebrating God’s raising of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead, this day is the oldest and most central festival in the Christian year and initiates the fifty-day period culminating in Pentecost.
Eve of Ridván – Bahá’í (continues through Friday, May 2)
Commemorating the twelve days that Bahá’u’lláh spent in the garden of Ridván during his exile in Baghdad and when he proclaimed himself as the one announced by the Báb, which occurred in 1863 C.E. On the first (4/21), ninth (4/29), and twelfth days (5/2) of this festival, work is suspended. The festival begins at sundown.
Shrimad Rajchandra Dehvilay – Jainism
This festival marks the day of the emancipation (death) of Shrimad Rajchandra, a prominent Jain philosopher, in 1901 C.E. He was an influential spiritual guide for Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi.
Sunday, April 27
Yom Ha-Shoah (Holocaust Day) – Judaism
A day of remembrance for the six million Jews who died because of Nazi atrocities during World War II. The date chosen is the closest date on the Jewish calendar to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943.
Monday, April 28
Jamál – Bahá’í
The beginning of the third month in the Bahá’í calendar, “Jamál” means “beauty.”
Wednesday, April 30
Ghambar Maidyozarem begins – Zoroastrianism (continues through Sunday, May 4)
Celebrating the creation of sky and the harvesting of the winter crops.
If you want more information about any of these holy days, please contact Spiritual Care Services at 415-353-1941 (Rev. Dr. Michele Shields) or 415-353-2319 (Rev. Dr. Peter Yuichi Clark). Our thanks to the Chicago Center for Cultural Connections, the Multifaith Action Soceity of British Columbia (Canada), and www.interfaithcalendar.org.